Tuesday, 10 December 2019
Department of Rural and Community Development
581. To ask the Minister for Rural and Community Development the steps he has taken to maintain a commitment given to compensate landowners for losses in scheme payments, for example, GLAS, as a consequence of a portion of land been given over to a greenway, cycleway or walkway project; when such a scheme will come into effect; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51145/19]
Responsibility for payments to agricultural landowners under schemes such as GLAS is a matter for the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
My Department is responsible for a range of interventions in the outdoor recreation sector, including through investment in the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme and the ongoing payment of landowners for the maintenance of trails through the Walks Scheme. Earlier this year I also presented a new mandate for Comhairle na Tuaithe - the Countryside Council - which supports the development of outdoor recreation activities for social, health and economic benefits, and which promotes the responsible use of the countryside where the rights and responsibilities of both landowners and recreational users are recognised and respected.
As part of my Department's engagement with the sector, my officials have explored with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine the impact of walking trails on the payments received by individual farmers. I understand from that engagement that agricultural land through which a greenway, cycleway or walkway is made, may remain eligible for the Basic Payment Scheme, provided such ways are not fenced off, and do not have a permanent surface such as gravel, concrete or tarmac.
The Deputy may wish to contact the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine directly for additional information regarding the possible impacts on other schemes administered by that Department.